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Tennesseans 12+: Now Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine

New Import Requirements Aim to Protect Rabbits from Deadly Virus

Tuesday, April 06, 2021 | 11:16am

NASHVILLE — Live domestic and wild rabbits, wild hares, and pikas have new requirements for import to Tennessee.

·         No live domestic rabbits, wild hares, pikas, or other susceptible species may enter Tennessee from a premises or area that is under state or federal quarantine for RHDV2.

·         If the animals are entering Tennessee from a state that had a confirmed case of RHDV2 within the past eight months, the animals must have a certificate of veterinary inspection issued by an accredited veterinarian within 72 hours of entering Tennessee.

RHDV2 does not affect humans or other animals. However, it is highly contagious and fatal to domestic rabbits, wild hares, and pikas. An infected animal may experience lethargy, decreased appetite, labored breathing, swelling, and internal bleeding. Sometimes the only sign of the virus is sudden death of the animal.

“It’s critical that we take steps immediately to keep RHDV2 out of Tennessee,” State Veterinarian Dr. Samantha Beaty said. “The virus is just beyond our border, creating a serious risk to the rabbits in our state.”

RHDV2 can be transmitted through direct contact with infected rabbits or carcasses, meat or fur, feces, bodily fluids, bedding material, feed and water bowls, and hay. The virus can remain in the environment for an extended time, even in extreme temperatures.

Rabbit owners are urged to increase biosecurity measures to protect their animals. Sudden deaths of domesticated rabbits should be reported to the state veterinarian’s office immediately. Questions about import requirements can also be directed to the office at 615-837-5120 or animal.health@tn.gov.

Hunters should wear gloves and disinfect equipment and hands after field dressing wild rabbits. Meat from healthy animals is safe to eat if dressed and cooked properly. Dead wild rabbits should be reported to your Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regional office. Contact information can be found online at www.tn.gov/twra/contact-us.html.

For the most current map of RHDV2 outbreaks, visit the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website at www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/maps/animal-health/rhd.

ORDER OF THE STATE VETERINARIAN

WHEREAS, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture was notified of the presence of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) in domestic rabbits located within a 50-mile radius of Tennessee;

WHEREAS, RHDV2 is a highly contagious and often fatal foreign animal disease that affects domestic rabbits, wild hares, and pika;

WHEREAS, RHDV2 can be spread through contact with infected food, water, pests/scavengers, objects, and infected living rabbits, hares, and pika or their carcasses, meat, or fur;

WHEREAS, RHDV2 can persist in the environment for extended periods, making disease detection and quarantine imperative to the health and safety of the state’s rabbit, hare, and pika populations;

WHEREAS, the State Veterinarian is charged with ordering tests or vaccinations and regulating the importation of animals within or entering the state as necessary to protect the health of animals in Tennessee under Tenn. Code Ann. § 44-2-102;

NOW THEREFORE, I, Dr. Samantha Beaty, State Veterinarian and Assistant Commissioner for Animal Health, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the laws of the State of Tennessee, do hereby order and direct that, beginning April 5, 2021, and enduring until replaced by rule, the following import provision of health documentation and testing for RHDV2,

1.         No live domestic rabbits, wild hares, pikas, or other susceptible species as determined by the State Veterinarian may enter Tennessee from a premises or area that is under an active state or federal quarantine for RHDV2;

2.         No live domestic rabbits, wild hares, pikas, and other susceptible species as determined by the State Veterinarian may enter Tennessee from a state that has had a confirmed case of RHDV2 in the past 8 months unless accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection issued within 72 hours of entering the state that bears the following statement written and signed by an accredited veterinarian, “The animals represented on this health certificate are not exhibiting clinical signs and have not originated from a premises or area under quarantine for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2.”

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Dr. Samantha Beaty, D.V.M.

State Veterinarian & Assistant Commissioner for Animal Health